Lauding Sardar Patel for forcing the Nizam of Hyderabad to merge his princely state with an Independent India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday regretted that the Congress has no respect for the country's "Iron Man" or its soldiers who guard its borders."As part of the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, Kalaburagi has a special place in Patel's life, as he forced its erstwhile ruler to merge his kingdom with a free India in September 1948," recalled Modi at a massive BJP election rally here ahead of the May 12 state polls.Comparing Nizam's atrocities with the British Col. Reginald Dyer's role on April 13, 1919, in Jallianwala Bagh massacre at Punjab's Amritsar, Modi applauded local people for erecting a memorial for the martyrs."This (memorial) was something the Congress could have done but did not as they disliked anything to do with Patel," he claimed.Accusing the Congress of insulting soldiers who conducted surgical strikes across the western border in Pakistan in September 2016, the Prime Minister said its leaders asked for its proof rather than hailing them for their bravery."The Congress has no respect for the sacrifices of our soldiers. When our soldiers did surgical strikes, its shameless leaders questioned it by asking for proof of their brave act. They prefer our soldiers going to war with cameras instead of guns," said Modi.
Calling Karnataka a "land of valour", Modi regretted that the Congress had also ill-treated Field Marshal K.M. Cariappa and General K.S. Thimayya, who hailed from the state's Kodagu region."The Congress had not only ill-treated Cariappa but its Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru also kept insulting Thimayya," lamented Modi.Cariappa (1899-1993) was the first Indian Commander-in-Chief of the Army and was conferred the Field Marshal rank on April 1986. He was also a recipient of the Order of the British Empire for his role in the Burma campaign against the Japanese during the Second World War (1939-1945).Cariappa also led the forces on the western front during the 1947 Indo-Pak war. He is the first of the two officers to hold the five-star rank of Field Marshal, the other being Sam Manekshaw (1914-2008).Thimayya (1906-65), a 1954 Padma Bhushan awardee, was Chief of Army Staff from 1957 to 1961.The Prime Minister said he was not surprised by the Congress disrespect to the soldiers and the country, as evident from its own leader sitting on the dais when the national song "Vande Mataram" was sung recently.Modi was alluding to a video footage showing Congress President Rahul Gandhi seated on the stage at a public rally on April 27 at Bantwal in the state's coastal region when the song was sung by a group of party cadres and reportedly gestured them to stop the rendering after the first line.